It’s been a year

Holy crap, it’s taken me a whole year to post anything.

I’ve got a pile of drafts on the back end, that I’ve started and are still in progress…I’ll get to them soon enough.

Over the past year, I’ve built a new NAS, bought a server to hold all the data on my phone, learned Proxmox…and, I went to Mexico and got married. I’ve said goodbye to some friends, said hello to some others, and got some DJ toys and a laptop. I’ve learned to cook new foods, made plenty of internet comments, and still pay for this blog to live online, ad-free, saying “I’ll have something to write about, eventually”. Half of me was interested in writing daily blogs during my honeymoon, but the other half didn’t want to be taking notes every day and typing incessantly. Moreover, to write about my honeymoon is to write about my wedding, and the untraveled road to get there, and I’m not really ready to deem that fit for public consumption just yet. Married life is great so far, but I’m a hobby blogger, not an internet exhibitionist.

There’s more musings to be had, but it’s late and the entire point of this post was to get something out the door in one sitting, lest I go yet another year go by without writing about something.

So, to my readers (99% Russian bots, granted), I’m still alive. Hopefully, I’ll have musings to share with a much shorter gap.


The King of an Empty Castle

Sometimes, I enjoy exploring Usenet. What is Usenet, you ask? It’s the precursor to Reddit and Facebook Groups; before all the different discussion forums and other sorts of many-to-many solutions on the internet, Usenet was how people found community online. It is very much a product of its era; the protocol was first implemented in 1981 and it shows. There is no text formatting. There’s no form of ‘liking’ or ‘upvoting’ or ‘thanking’, and there are no emojis. Usenet requires a dedicated program to access, and most of those applications have an appearance and interface that heavily prioritizes function over form.

I still find it interesting though. A few groups still have a handful of active users; unsurprisingly, most of them center around computing and computer programming. Other more general groups have been long abandoned. They are a ghost town, showing discussions from over a decade ago with spam posts being the only content added ever since. Occasionally, a group will contain a post from some unfortunate soul who asked a question years ago, never to see a reply.

Despite the current state of Usenet, starting a new newsgroup remains a laborious process.

I originally started pondering this blog post because I saw that there was no Windows 11 newsgroup. Ironically, the Windows 7 group remains somewhat active. While subreddits get created multiple times per minute (guess there will always be spammers), the arduous process of creating a new newsgroup seems to go to the other extreme. It appears that the last ‘Big 8’ newsgroup whose creation was approved, was added back in 2021. A handful of other proposals for new groups have been made since then, but all of them were denied before even been put up to a vote. The most recent successful proposal was to make someone a moderator of an existing newsgroup. It was the epitome of a hollow victory; the last post in that group was, in fact, the notice that the group had a new moderator. It’s possible that the moderator may be deleting spam as it arrives, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone worth cleaning up for.

This raised another question: Who’s voting on the creation of newsgroups? The answer: three people. Now, I’m not putting any shade toward Jason, Rayner, or Tristan. On the contrary, most of the proposals that have come in have seen participation by at least two of them, so it’s clear they are directly involved, which is good to see.

That being said, it wasn’t long before I started waxing philosophical. I don’t know how many people still actively use Usenet in a given month. Hundreds, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands if we stretch it to include Google Groups’ hybrid platform. Usenet has been almost entirely supplanted by Reddit, Twitter, HackerNews and 4Chan. Each of these services has their own advantages and shortcomings, but the real draw are the people. HackerNews has about 3.5 million monthly visitors. 4Chan has about 22 million. Twitter has tens of millions (depending on whose numbers you believe), and Meta’s Threads platform has reportedly seen 100 million sign-ups. Reddit has hundreds of millions. Even Mastodon has managed to keep about a million monthly users on the platform. Again, it’s hard to get numbers on Usenet usage, but I’d bet my money that even Truth Social’s 500,000 monthly user base far outnumbers those of Usenet.

The folks still using Usenet for discussion are, more likely than not, people who have been using it since the dial-up era. I’d be hard pressed to believe that there are even a dozen college seniors in my entire state who have posted on Usenet consistently. There simply aren’t a new group of people seeking to use the system to communicate, especially when far more popular, far more instantaneous platforms exist.

Herein lies my ultimate question: Of what virtue is it to meticulously label a room full of empty filing cabinets, “in case someone uses them one day”? Of what virtue is keeping a lengthy deliberation and voting procedure in place when the user count is so low, a freshly nominated moderator has an entire newsgroup with nothing to moderate? How will keeping a strict adherence to the charters and hierarchies improve the appeal of a system that has 626 total downloads of the most popular software available for ChromeOS?

Again, I applaud the three board members of the Big 8 who seek to hold out until the end. From the outside, though, it almost strikes me as a warning. It’s easy to find one’s self exerting lots of time and energy into some sort of accomplishment whose relevance dwindles with the progress of time, insisting on structure which becomes increasingly quixotic.


On the other hand, it seems equally myopic to base the value of one’s work upon the size of its audience. If that were the metric of success most worthy of pursuing, this blog probably wouldn’t exist.

To All The DJ Software I’ve Loved Before

I’m dusting off my turntables this weekend. Due to a combination of some new software functionality and some hardware compatibility issues, I’ve given VirtualDJ a shot…and I’m sad I didn’t listen sooner.

I tried it with my timecode records; I’ve got a bit of a collection. Sadly, it only works with my Serato records. This made me wax a bit nostalgic to the DJ software I’ve used over the years; I thought I’d write a bit about some of the ones who never made critical mass.


Torq. You were ahead of your time in nearly every respect. The best sampler, the best library, the first hardware controller, the first to support third party vinyl, name dropping by the Black Eyed Peas, VST plugins in real-time…you had everything going for you. I am still sorry you were a victim of accounting and politics. Avid didn’t deserve you. You are missed.

FinalScratch. You defined the market. You had your work cut out for you; my version didn’t have so many of the things DJs take for granted now. You barely had a crate system. You barely had a search system. There were no samplers, EQs, effects, or video functions. You did not understand MIDI, largely because you had no use for it. The closest thing you had to “relative mode” was the ability to offset the start point so we could more evenly wear our records. There. Was. No. Pitch. Lock. And yet, you blazed the trail. No more crates. No more having to buy two copies of every record. Waveform displays that were far easier to see than record grooves in a night club. You may have been on a clearance rack when I bought you, and I may have never used you at a party, but owning “the hockey puck” and a Final Scratch timecode record is my way of paying homage to a piece of history.

PCDJ Blue. You emulated a dual CD deck. Badly. You’re not missed, and your successor Reflex bears your shame.

Deckadance. You were interesting, but nobody knew you. You worked with everything, and nothing at the same time. You targeted production DJs who weren’t spinning records. You had potential. If it makes you feel any better, Image-Line didn’t know what to do with their amazing web development program, E-ZGenerator, either.

Serato. It’s not me, it’s you. I’m still a fan. I’d happily return. The problem, however, is that I’m not buying a new $1,500 mixer for you. I perfectly understand not-supporting my ten-year-old SL3, but there’s no replacement. There’s no ASIO mode where I could use my existing mixer. These are problems everyone else solved, but you chose to follow the controller crowd. That makes sense; I do not completely fault you…but let the record show who left whom.

Rekordbox. You’ve grown so much since your flash drive curating days. It’s impressive, really. Nobody did a better job recommending tracks to me, and your multi-playlist functions are unparalleled. However, your sampler is a mess, you’re the only one that made me scour your user forums for a layout for my Dicers, and you spent all your time chasing Dropbox integration, admittedly-cool DMX control, and ever-so-obnoxious subscription functions, when the real reason you’re not my go-to right now is because a Stem-like function isn’t even in alpha testing, despite there already being open source tools for the task.

Maxi-Patch. There’s always that particularly weird kid in class who nobody knows how to interact with. It’s you. You’re that kid. And there’s an endearing aspect to your willingness to integrate with DAWs as your primary function, and there’s certainly someone out there for you…but I’m just not convinced you understood the assignment. I love the timecode records you came with, and for what it’s worth, they’re one of the reasons I’m writing this…but I was never able to figure you out.

Mixxx. I love watching you grow up. I remember the 0.8 release was…a clear reflection of your potential, and I look forward to watching your continued development as the most promising open source DJ software title (and the only one for Linux). As time progresses, I think you just might start to make inroads. Stick to it; version 4 will undoubtedly show some traction.

Denon HD2500. You’re hardware in a list full of software…but again, if someone was ahead of its time, it was you. Native Serato control in MIDI mode long before actual controllers were a thing, a 40GB hard drive that could rock entire parties or keep a perfectly adequate emergency list, one of the best integrated audio interfaces of your generation, the ability to control a dual CD deck…there was nothing you couldn’t do. Never let the new hotness let you forget your identity. You defined the playing field they compete in.

Mixmeister. You started it. From the Version 3 that shipped with my sound card, to Pro 6 that was the pinnacle of the title, to Fusion’s growing pains and that awkward hardware controller that was so poorly understood by a market expecting a pair of jog wheels…InMusic doesn’t quite know what to do with you now, and your silky smooth 8-bar transitions may seem simplistic by today’s standards…but you and your MXM files will always have a place on my hard drive.


Priceless – A Christian Movie That’s All Heart…And No Head

The cinematography was well done, the dialogue was competently written, the subject matter was timely, the actors had some skill, and the soundtrack was, unsurprisingly, solid.

However, the writer’s room seemed to believe that it was of prime importance that our main protagonist retained the common sense of a raisin. Either that, or nobody on the production staff thought that giving a copy of the script to an intern at a local attorney’s office for review was a worthwhile endeavor. I wanted to like this movie, but it’s tough to cheer for a main character who makes bad choices the whole way through.

If you haven’t seen it already…spoiler warning.


Our story starts with a protagonist who’s down on his luck after a messy divorce, and ends up getting paid a lot of money to drive a box truck across the country, no-questions-asked. Now…as far as I’m concerned, that was the first problem: if you’re getting paid a lot of money to not-ask questions, you either commit to not asking questions or you walk away up front. Nobody pays triple market value for a bloke to drive a U-Haul full of sweaters. Assume you’re carrying something illegal, don’t get pulled over, and let it be someone else’s problem. “But doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of the story?” It could…but the other way to do it would have been to have the “what did I do” gnaw at him after he had cash-in-hand and he worked with law enforcement from the ground up. Either way, it’s established early on that our protagonist isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Seven minutes in, he finds out he’s a participant in human trafficking (again, he gets no sympathy from me or the title of “unwitting protagonist”…he accepted money and asked no questions). He doesn’t contact law enforcement at that point, when it would have been smart…no, he keeps driving with them, because…he still wants to get paid, I guess…so, he gets to where he’s going and hands them over, clearly not to anybody these young women know. Transaction complete. Congratulations, he’s officially a human trafficker. Our protagonist is actually a human trafficker. We could have had a movie where he went rogue and it was all Liam Neeson from Taken, but no…we had to have a protagonist who is literally a human trafficker.

Cowboy comes in and seems upset about the fact that there’s trafficking going on…mutual distrust is understandable, but….there’s no fish-or-cut-bait situation happening? Cowboy is accusing protagonist of being a human trafficker, but if it’s a one-and-done deal, why take on the guilt now? Oh, he’s got a daughter, and that comes up any time there’s a need for emotional gravity…that’s literally all she’s used for in the whole movie is to be an emotional anchor. We know nothing about her, except that she’s missed by her dad and says cute things on the phone.

Protagonist meets local sheriff, and at this point, protagonist is abundantly aware of what’s going on…now, it was so bleeding obvious from the get-go that the sheriff was in on it. I had no idea how protagonist missed it, or failed to even suspect it…but if protagonist isn’t going to call county police, at least make a statement down at the station. Moreover, protagonist forgot his Miranda Rights. Anything he says can – and will – be used against him in a court of law. He’s guilty of human trafficking and has an envelope full of money and a phone with call logs, and the keys to the truck. He’s guilty and carrying enough evidence for a conviction…and then he flat out confesses his crime. Now, if the sheriff was all-the-way upstanding, he’d probably have rightfully arrested protagonist. Even if the sheriff saw protagonist as an unwitting pawn and let him go free, protagonist still has an envelope full of money that needed to go back to the sellers. If the sheriff considered the money ‘evidence’ (or just good old fashioned civil asset forfeiture), protagonist has nothing to bring back to the seller. He puts his daughter in jeopardy in the most pointless way possible: putting himself in a position to not-have the money.

Protagonist then goes to the hotel, and pays $100 for an hour with the girl he dropped off…yes, that’s right, he pays the pimps. And…he takes his hour to let her relax, I guess? It’s really unclear what his plan is at this point, probably because he doesn’t have one and is making it up as he goes. He’s up against an organized set of human traffickers with very little information and no experience, and it shows. Our victim is the only one with a lick of sense; she has no trust in protagonist to hold to his word and sees right through his complete absence of a plan.

Cowboy comes back and shows the slightest level of wisdom, which is great….but in their discussion, it’s revealed that protagonist has managed to grow a conscience in a single afternoon? I didn’t believe it either, but memories-of-daughter come to ensure my concerns are quelled.

Blah blah blah, protagonist and cowboy decide to storm the castle, just the two of them. Now, let’s unpack the list of reasons this was stupid. The first reason, isn’t that the traffickers have guns. Both sides have guns, and cowboy has a cool hat so we can assume he’s better than they are. The real concern isn’t the guns, it’s the hostages. To the traffickers, the girls are replaceable. They can shoot indiscriminately or use the girls as human shields and they aren’t worried about collateral damage. To protagonist and cowboy, however, there’s a problem if anybody dies. Let’s take violence out of it for a bit. Let’s assume a recon visit, no weapons, no damage, no threats…not that protagonist and cowboy can bank on any of that, but let’s try it for a minute…anything they find is inadmissible in court if they’re going to attempt to bring the traffickers up on criminal charges. They’re going to undermine themselves because nobody passed a civics class. 

Skip a bit, and we have ‘the interrogation’…where the trafficker and the cowboy have a rather polite conversation…based entirely on emotion and nothing that adheres to scrutiny. “you took my daughter 10 years ago”, “hate to disappoint, but I was still in high school 10 years ago”, “you’re all the same”…and that’s where cowboy loses me. It’s a personal vendetta, for which cowboy is holding trafficker personally responsible, except that this particular trafficker isn’t responsible for what happened to his daughter AND he admits that his daughter ran away, willingly…stupidly, but willingly. Now, this doesn’t absolve trafficker of his crimes, but it does undo most of the sympathy I have for the cowboy. If he’s not picky about which trafficker he takes down, why does he stay in a town where the law is in on it, and why has he had no success in the past ten years getting other law enforcement involved? He might have the moral high ground and some solid zingers, but at the end of the day, he comes across as being less competent due to his drive being primarily emotion based. It’s great that his feelings compelled him to action, but if we define ‘success’ in this context as ‘efficacy in achieving one’s goals’, trafficker has money, beautiful women, and law enforcement on his payroll. The cowboy has…a mountain of guilt and no success in resolving the trafficking that happens in his town. Absent our protagonist, it’s unclear how the status quo would have changed otherwise. 

Then we rescue victim and the hostage trade that everybody with a brain stem saw coming…props to our victim for staying ten toes to the ground and prioritizing the well being of her sister to the extent she does. The exchange is again, super emotionally charged, and…why didn’t trafficker shoot protagonist the minute he put his gun down? How did actual-law-enforcement show up at this point, but not before? How did the cops obtain a warrant for the other location we see the SWAT team going to, with no evidence? What judge signed off on that warrant? We see protagonist get arrested, but the role of law enforcement adds a metric ton of questions that are all answered in a ‘dip to black’.

We jump to ‘one year later’…what now?! We just handwaved away the attempted murder charges that were likely filed. The police officers were witnesses in that attempted murder. How did he avoid being accused of the death of cowboy? Protagonist could also easily be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and child endangerment based solely on the testimony of the cops, and there’s still the problem regarding all of the evidence connecting him to the trafficking he was guilty of. How, exactly, did all of that get dropped?

And then, there’s the beautiful, romantic ending…that is all the way messed up as far as I’m concerned. The house he buys is cowboy’s old house, great…how did he get it, exactly? Cowboy met protagonist not three days before he died, there was no way it was left to him in a will. How’d protagonist buy it? With what money? What job did he get that he couldn’t get at the beginning of the movie that allows him to make that kind of money? I count ten people in the closing scene, none of whom are implied to be independently wealthy or have vocations with six figure incomes. The math simply doesn’t work.

Let’s talk about what happens after the arrest. Where did she and her sister go while protagonist was in jail, at least awaiting his arraignment even if we assume everything got acquitted? She’s wearing an engagement ring (again, with what money?), but doesn’t have a wedding band. She and her sister are illegal immigrants with no family in the states…so, we’re left to assume she is living at this house? Living with your fiancée is okay if the house is big enough and sufficiently secluded? Oh, and what’s the story with the sister, who’s still a minor at this point? She has zero agency in this outcome at all; did she ever want to go back with her family and her older sister and soon-to-be-brother-in-law said ‘no’? Did she go to school, and how did she deal with the learning deficiencies she clearly would have at this point?

The relationship itself strikes me as incredibly unhealthy. They went from ‘rescue’ to ‘ring’ in less than a year, their relationship started due to tragedy, its development took place completely off screen, and her family is not mentioned, present, or involved. A 10-12 year age gap isn’t terrible unless one of them is about 19, and there is no way she’s gone through the sort of therapy she needs to get to a healthy state after being trafficked, sexually assaulted, and nearly having her sister killed in front of her…If there was a textbook example of ‘stockholm syndrome’, this seems like it.

…But they look good together and she loves him and the lighting is all super warm and inviting and I’m sure there’s some sort of intended Biblical allegory in there somewhere, so we say “awwwwww”. No. Wrapping that sort of bow on the story undoes everything that came before it. What’s the message here? “As long as you’re rescued from being trafficked, you’ll be fine”? “Hopefully your rescuer is tall, dark, and handsome, so you can marry him”? “Committing crimes to end human trafficking gets you a pass on jail time”? 


I skimmed the movie for this review; I might actually-watch it again to add a few more points of contention…but for real, I couldn’t get with this movie because it only works when we limit the story to what’s shown on screen. Anything beyond that and it clearly gets incredibly messy, incredibly quickly.

On the topic of Elon’s Acquisition of Twitter

I don’t pretend to know why Musk made the purchase. I’ve heard plenty of speculation, from him simply being a ‘bored billionaire’ to it being a way to divest Tesla stock, to a desire for some sort of anarchic social media outlet to compete with Bezos’ Citizen-Kane-like ownership of the Washington Post.


What I do know is that the usual mudslinging has lost its edge. I’m tired of everyone treating it like either some massive win or some massive loss for ‘their side’. There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing what I’ve done; I pay about $6/month to Namecheap for this little slice of the internet that a handful of people (and lots of spam comment bots) read. I have free speech here, and there’s nothing stopping anyone else from doing what I’ve done. With a bit more tech knowhow, you can start your own little social network. Mastodon is exactly that, and it’s the basis for Trump’s “Truth Social” project. Diaspora, Misskey, Pleroma, and a dozen more are easy to use, plus alternatives to Instagram, Youtube, and Reddit. The first-gen protocols of IRC and Usenet are still very much available and can be used for free.

The reason why these things aren’t used more has to do with two related reasons: first, it requires technical know-how, and second, it lacks a ready-made audience. I understand the appeal of something which avoids both problems. Truly, I do. However, ‘free speech’ has always been a “free-as-in-freedom” idea, not a “free-as-in-beer” one. The American Revolution was loosely organized in bars by sharing pamphlets…which cost money to print. Some people started their own printing press for just this reason. If what you have to say is so critical, and yet so controversial that Twitter’s changing of the guard concerns you, or Youtube’s content policies prevent your covering them, or Facebook puts you in “Facebook Jail” for writing about them…then I submit that it’s time for you to do what I’ve done.

Now, in terms of where the acquisition will go? I’m uncertain. I’m definitely looking forward to CNN trying to figure out what to do instead of reading Tweets all day if the acquisition gets rid of their usual sources of clickbait – I’ve actually wondered if they’ve joined Truth Social to get some of Mr. Trump’s posts in order to shore up their content stream. But ultimately, while I do agree that there’s something to be said about large tech companies being “First Amendment Compliant” in order to be considered for government contracts, tax breaks, or other means by which to incentivize compliance with a standardized Terms-of-Service which allow for extremely minimal content moderation (none of you would want to read the thousands of spam comments this blog gets every week), I also think that true commitment to freedom of speech involves the acceptance of some responsibility. Setting up a blog like this one can be done in an afternoon with very little technical skill, and costs less than a Big Mac per month. Self-hosting it without a company like Namecheap can be done in a weekend.

Whether you believe Musk’s motives are an altruistic commitment to free speech, or a really expensive way of trolling the people he disagrees with, the takeaway is simple: the fewer people relied upon to exercise your freedom of speech, the more likely you will be to keep it.

I’m assuming it gets better

I’m moved in.

My apartment is a mess of “mostly-done” things.

I already have a sink full of dishes.

The quiet is starting to get unnerving.

One day in, and the loneliness is becoming palatable.

I have so much to do, so many things I *could* do…and yet the exhaustion of the move has made it nearly impossible.

I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow.

I’m assuming it gets better.

My laptop must be bored

At the end of August 2021, my OriginPC EON17 laptop “Elsa” gave me one hell of  a scare. For seemingly no reason, the laptop’s fans went into high gear, it beeped several times, and shut down.

I knew the laptop wasn’t in the happiest of states, but with less than a week to go before a wedding I was DJing, I didn’t want to take the chance. I had been debating what to do about a laptop for some time. I’d been buying those Origin laptops at about a 3-year cadence for most of the 2010s, but it was pretty apparent that I’d passed the point in my life where $3,500 for a laptop was a wise investment. A more modest MSI Katana was what I ended up with.

I use it daily, but the most common use case for me is for Remote Desktop. 90% of this laptop’s functionality could be performed on a Raspberry Pi. I have both Serato DJ and Pioneer Rekordbox installed, but I’ve opened them approximately thrice since the laptop was purchased.

I did enjoy completing the Mass Effect Legendary Edition on this computer, but video games haven’t been much of a thing for me recently. I played Sol Survivor for an hour last month, and fired up the lootbox-laden Star Trek: Timelines two months before. One of these days I’ll finish my game of Civilization V and see if Catherine the Great can lead Russia to victory. I like the gameplay of Hades, though its “Rogue-lite” genre means that the goal is to beat the entire game without dying. While I appreciate the skill required to achieve this goal, it is infuriating to play the same levels repeatedly, given how little game time I clearly have. A friend tried getting me into Warframe, which lost its allure fairly quickly. I’d spent ten hours with minor variations of  “go to the place and shoot the lads“, ended up with a cargo bay of assorted stuff and still found myself unable to afford a single upgrade of anything. Really, I found myself wanting to better understand why I kept going to places to shoot the lads. This quickly led me to the troubling realization that I was going to the places and shooting the lads because the computer told me to…that nobody was questioning a voice inside my helmet instructing me to kill loads of people with no clear reasoning behind it makes me worried.  An hour or two of Bioshock and Crysis round out my gaming time since September. I’ve had this laptop for nearly a year, and I’ve realized that I’ve spent more time out of state since I’ve purchased this gaming laptop than I’ve spent playing video games on it.


When I was young, my father once told me that being an adult is doing the 15 things you have to do, ideally with enough time left to do the 3 things you want to do. I think he’s right, but then I also acknowledge that I’ve watched the entire series of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the past two months. Is it because video games have lost most of their allure? I mean, that’s probably a part of it – most of the games on the list are older, in no small part because I’m actively seeking to avoid games with lootboxes and microtransactions, which are becoming an endangered species. Maybe it’s a direct aging thing (twitchy fingers don’t twitch as twitchfully at 35 as they did at 15), and maybe it’s an indirect aging thing (work and other things get in the way). Maybe video games were, themselves, just one more thing that was in my life for a season.

Ultimately, if I were to anthropomorphize this laptop, I wonder if it would be bored. 90% of its life spent in a remote desktop makes its specs mostly pointless; I probably will let the laptop start sitting in a bag most of the time once I can get my hands on a Raspberry Pi again, but is it bored, or am I projecting my own boredom onto my gaming laptop and gaming monitor, connected to a gaming keyboard and gaming mouse, only to sit here blogging in Firefox.

Maybe the real answer is that I shouldn’t blog at midnight.

The Rum Is Gone

I went to Honduras back in February. On the way home, I bought a bottle of rum at the airport. Tonight, I take my last sip of the bottle.

I didn’t blog about it at the time for a number of reasons. It’s someplace I’d like to go again if I can ever get my Spanish speaking skills to a passable level…but be rather concerned about doing so if I had to plan such a trip on my own.

Honduras is a travel destination that is truly challenging to either recommend, nor dissuade. Getting there was difficult, as the paltry number of flights to Honduras caused issues with my airline with respect to actually getting there. Once there, I never really felt unsafe, but the cultural norm of having armed security at mundane establishments brought a little perspective to how some non-Americans perceive concealed carry. The exterior appearance of homes invariably lacked ‘curb appeal’, but most of the stone work looked like it would have no problem standing firm long after vinyl siding on American homes demands replacement. I doubt there were many people I saw who had extensive investment portfolios or were planning trips to Club Med, but few seemed unhappy, and many seemed to be carrying on conversations with neighbors and ‘strangers’ in a way that seemed more foreign than the Spanish I inconsistently comprehended.

We complain about $5/gallon gasoline we’re currently experiencing in America, but a gallon cost about $4.40 while I was there, keeping in mind that the median income in the country is $2,500/year . Proportional to the median American income, such a number is analogous to paying $79/gallon at the pump. We listened to regular FM Radio, but even that was very different. Hispanic genres were played side-by-side with American top-40 tracks, and in addition to FCC rules not applying to broadcasts (thus making the term ‘clean edit’ an anachronism), commercials were far less frequent – I’ve heard more advertisements on Pandora than any radio station I heard there. This song was frequently played; hearing it already brings back memories. The beaches were beautiful, the mountainous terrain made travel slow but beautiful. While the food took a bit of getting used to, I’d love to have a Honduran breakfast again. Ironically, the drive-thru coffee shop seemed to have trouble making a cup of coffee with milk and sugar; I’d have to use the coffee beans I brought home before I was able to make coffee properly.

The weeks following the trip were difficult, not the least of which because the balmy 79°F days were a pleasant respite from the seemingly-interminable winter weather. I came home with some mixed emotions, which were cemented in the weeks thereafter. I like to say that I was the least successful person to find solace at the bottom of a bottle; a single 50mL pour of the 70-proof Honduran spirit took me three days to finish. While there was one instance I can recall that I’d describe as a “bad night”, I do thank the Lord for His divine protection. The emotional state was there for the beginnings of a battle I’d not like to wage. While I am certain I could have handled it better, it was His protection that prevented that stretch of time from becoming much, much worse. It took some time, but I’d say it was around the beginning of May that I think I managed to get myself back into the proper headspace. I was no longer attempting to suppress my feelings, nor did Bebe Rexha’s 2014 hit “Can’t Stop Drinking About You” resonate.

I wish I could sum up what I learned, but it’s strange because it’s not even particularly quantifiable. Maybe this is what “learning about yourself” is, but if it cannot be meaningfully articulated, does it even count as a ‘lesson’ or ‘learning’?

Maybe it’s a bit like this glass of rum itself. “palette”, “nose”, “mouthfeel”, “finish”…are just some of the words used to describe the flavor of spirits which I am unskilled in leveraging. I can’t meaningfully articulate what this rum tastes like in a way that will reliably impart the experience. However, it doesn’t mean that an experience wasn’t had, or that it isn’t valid. And as I finish consuming this last pour, I draw a line. I am grateful for the experience in all its messiness, having faith that despite the difficulties which stemmed from my adventure, an alternative outcome may not have ultimately panned out as it was envisioned. I look forward to what’s to come, whatever it may be.

Day 16: shopping and logistics

I’ll fill this out later…but we’re going to talk about the happiest child in Disney World right now…

This family of six comes into the restaurant we’re eating at tonight. The staff asks if they were celebrating anything special today. This little girl, who was *maybe* 3, has the biggest smile as she proclaims, “My adoption!!!” Absolute most adorable thing. It made me so happy.

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